Team USA survived a scare on Tuesday in Shanghai, narrowly pulling out a 93-92 win vs. Turkey in overtime and securing a spot in the second round of the 2019 World Cup. The Turkish team missed four free throws in the final minute of the game, opening the door for the USA Basketball squad to seal the victory.
Having defeated the Czech Republic and Turkey, Team USA will take a 2-0 record into its final first-round matchup against 0-2 Japan. The top two teams in each group move on to the round of 16, so even if Japan pulls off an extremely unlikely upset in Thursday’s game, Team USA would advance. The winner of Thursday’s Czech Republic/Turkey contest will also secure a spot in the second round.
Although they held off a strong push from Turkey, it wasn’t all good news for Team USA today. Jayson Tatum was forced out of action in the game’s final minute after rolling his left ankle, as a video from Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston shows.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst tweets that the official word on Tatum is a left ankle sprain. The Celtics forward will be re-evaluated on Wednesday, at which point we should have a better idea of whether or not we’ll see him suit up again in China.
Meanwhile, Team Canada was eliminated from medal contention on Tuesday after falling to Lithuania by a 92-69 margin. Canada, which lost to Australia on Sunday, is one of the only countries that theoretically features enough NBA players to fill out an entire 12-man squad. However, only two NBA players – Cory Joseph and Khem Birch – participated in the World Cup and Nick Nurse‘s squad couldn’t keep up with Australia and Lithuania in Group H.
Canada will enter the classification round along with the other 15 teams eliminated from the World Cup in round one. Those games will still be important, since Canada will have to finish between 17th and 23rd to clinch a spot in next summer’s Olympics qualifying tournament. A finish below 23rd would ensure the program doesn’t participate in the 2020 Olympics.